|A Johnson & Johnson building is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake|
July 19 (Reuters) - U.S. state attorneys general are expected this week to unveil a $26 billion settlement resolving claims that three major drug distributors and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped fuel a nationwide opioid epidemic, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Distributors McKesson Corp (MCK.N), Cardinal Health Inc (CAH.N) and AmerisourceBergen Corp (ABC.N) would pay a combined $21 billion, while Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) would pay $5 billion. New York on Tuesday is expected to announce the distributors have agreed to a $1 billion-plus settlement with the state, a source said.
The ultimate settlement pricetag could fluctuate depending on the number of states and political subdivisions that agree to the deal or reject it and pursue litigation on their own in hopes of a bigger payout down the line.
More than 40 states are expected to support the nationwide settlement, two sources said. States will have 30 days to decide whether to join the global accord then more time to try to convince their cities and counties to participate in the deal, the sources said.
McKesson has previously said that of the $21 billion the three distributors would pay over 18 years, more than 90% would be used to remediate the opioid crisis while the rest, about $2 billion, would be used to pay plaintiffs' attorney fees and costs.
Several states have passed laws or reached agreements with their political subdivisions to govern how settlement proceeds would be allocated in the event of a nationwide settlement.